(USA TODAY) -- Look at any electronic cigarette company's website, and you'll read
that you can smoke the battery-operated devices almost anywhere.
until recently, Blu eCigs boasted on its website that one benefit over
traditional cigarettes is that you can "Smoke anywhere!" The website has
since toned down its language to say that you can "Smoke in many places
where traditional cigarettes aren't allowed!"
The confusion about
where you can or cannot smoke e-cigarettes has posed a challenge for
the travel industry. The FDA has not ruled on the safety of
e-cigarettes, but the agency will propose a rule on how to regulate them
down the road.
That's not stopping people who want to quit smoking from turning to the smokeless, odorless alternative.
to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, which represents
the industry, e-cigarette makers have been able to capture 10% to 14%
of the 44 million tobacco users in the U.S.
liquid containing nicotine to produce vapor. In addition to water, the
e-cigs typically contain vegetable glycerine, artificial flavoring and
sometimes, propylene glycol, which is also found in asthma inhalers.
as a whole have no secondhand smoke," says Ray Story, chief executive
officer of the association. "They don't emit anything."
Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine and director of the Center for
Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California,
San Francisco, says, "They do emit toxic chemicals into the environment.
"My opinion is that they're dangerous - not as dangerous as conventional cigarettes - but that they're dangerous," he says.
Where exactly can travelers smoke e-cigarettes? The answer is still not clear.
Mosley, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, says the
current ban on smoking on planes applies to e-cigarettes, though it
does not explicitly say so.
"There has been some confusion over
whether the Department's ban on smoking includes a ban on (the) use of
e-cigarettes," he says.
To clear up that confusion, in September
2011, the department proposed an amendment to explicitly ban
e-cigarettes. A final rule is expected by the end of this year.
who fail to comply with the no-smoking ban can currently be fined
between $1,100 and $11,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Airports and hotels are generally on their own when deciding how to deal with e-cigarettes.
can't power up an e-cig at Baltimore/ Washington International Thurgood
Marshall Airport. But you can at Minneapolis-St. Paul International
Airport. "State law governs indoor smoking but does not address
electronic cigarettes, nor have we chosen at this point to govern their
use by ordinance," says spokesman Patrick Hogan.
Same goes for
hotels, which in recent years have been more aggressive in getting rid
of smoking rooms and public spaces on their properties.
Hotel group, for example, has not made any changes to smoking polices
but "will continue to monitor the trend as it emerges," says spokeswoman
But Jeffery Waddell, director of Westin Hilton
Head Island Resort and Spa, says, "We would treat an electronic
cigarette as a cigarette. There is nicotine vapor, and it falls into the
realm of smoking."